December 3, 2009
The Chicago Park District recently proposed its FY2010 operating budget, totaling $391.9 million. The District is decreasing its operating expenditures by 0.3% from the FY2009 budget, which is one of the reasons the Federation offered its qualified support of the District’s FY2010 budget.
Limiting expenditure growth is a common practice at the Chicago Park District. Over the last ten years total appropriations have grown by $64.5 million, or 19.7%, which is less than the inflation rate of roughly 20.7%.1 Between FY2001 and FY2010, annual budgeted appropriation growth averaged 1.8%.
As demonstrated below, FY2010 will mark the second consecutive year of appropriation reduction. The District has reduced expenditures while our nation has been in the midst of an economic recession. December 2007 marked the beginning of the current economic recession. Although markets have begun to recover, the National Bureau of Economic Research has not yet made an official statement regarding whether the recession has ended.
By limiting annual expenditure increases, the District has been able to hold its property tax levy flat and maintain reasonable fee rates for services. This is the fifth consecutive year the District is holding the property tax levy flat. The levy, which totals $259.9 million in FY2010, includes $253.9 million for general operations and $6.0 million for Special Recreation purposes. The District has managed to avoid property tax increases over the past five years, in part thanks to a combination of steadily increasing fee revenues and prudent management strategies, including reductions in personnel, privatization and the utilization of public-private partnerships.
1. The Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers in the Chicago-Gary-Kenosha statistical area increased 20.7% between October 2000 and October 2009, the most recent month available. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.